As the boaties of Oxford will no doubt have told you, last week from Wednesday to Saturday, the annual rowing competition of Summer Eights took place at Oxford’s stretch of the Thames known as the “Isis”.
Despite uncharacteristically bad weather on Saturday of the competition, which lessened the crowd size and perhaps the merriment of the spectators on the bank somewhat, the competition on Saturday and the other three days was fierce. Indeed, even the most hard core of anti rowers that Oxford University has, would no doubt concede Summer Eights remains the greatest rowing spectacle that Oxford has to offer.
With the boats in the rowing on divisions offering up some entertaining rowing and sporting costumes that fashionistas themselves would be proud of and with the top divisions providing some high class rowing, the four days of competition had everything.
Two weeks ago the Cherwell sports team gave you the “Summer Eights lowdown” with all you need to know about the nature of the rowing spectacle that is, Summer Eights. So you will already know that the aim in Summer Eights is to bump the boat in front of you on each of the four days of the competition or if you are at the very top of the top division, to go for the headship. If a crew manages to get a bump everyday of the competition then they win “blades” which are ornamental trophy blades given to every member of the crew.
During the four day competition this year, a staggering, nine women crews and nine men crews achieved blades and will go down in their college’s history books. The headships this year went to Christ Church men’s firsts who rowed over each day of the competition and to Balliol women’s firsts who managed to bump up to first from second in the division.
Perhaps the most successful college of the week, especially in the men’s competition, was Wolfson, with all three of their men’s crews achieving blades. With the firsts managing to bump their way up from 12th to 8th in the men’s top division, and in doing so becoming the only top division men’s crew to get blades, with the seconds getting blades in men’s division 5 and with the third eight getting blades in men’s division 7. Considering that the Wolfson first eight also reached the final of the Bedford Head regatta earlier in the term, the graduate college have had a great term of rowing. What is more, the first eight also managed to achieve blades in Hilary term’s Torpids competition and so it seems that Wolfson are quickly becoming a powerhouse of college rowing. In fact, I would bet that in a few years time the college may soon be challenging for the headship in the men’s competition.
Yet with a strong performance from the Christ Church men’s crews, they have once again managed to have the highest first, second and third eights in the competition and so it may be too soon to start heralding the end of their domination of college rowing.
In the women’s competition, Pembroke firsts managed to bump up from 8th to 4th in the top division and in doing so were the highest crew in the competition to achieve blades. Perhaps equally impressive was the achievement of Worcester women’s firsts who managed to bump up a total of seven places in four days. For after having bumped St Hugh’s to go top of division 3 in their first race, they then raced an hour later and managed to get an over-bump on Mansfield and so went up four places in one day. Then by bumping Queen’s, Exeter and Wolfson, they completed their set of four and achieved blades.
As well as the successful crews in the competition, there were of course crews that were not so successful. In fact, in the four days of competition a total of 13 crews were bumped every day of the competition and enjoyed the dubious honour of winning “spoons” (the opposite of blades).
Despite the bad weather, the week was as successful as ever. Even though there are another 51 weeks to go until the competition kicks off again, the Oxford boaties will no doubt already be pencilling it in their diaries.